Everybody does it.
That’s what people say when they have their first beer at 15 or 16. (Or 12?!) They say it when they scratch up someone’s fender, backing out of a parking space, not leaving a note. They say it when they go ten miles per hour above the speed limit. (Okay, fifteen.) They say it when they fudge their taxes.
It’s always seemed like faulty rationalizing rather than any expression of logic. Admittedly, I’ve relied on it to justify my heavy foot on the gas pedal. I’m getting better, but that may be part of getting older.
Ah, getting older. Happens to everyone. Except online. Can’t tell you how many 55-year-old bodies I’ve seen on “41-year-olds” and how many “53-year-olds” look 68. It’s gay math. Certain, ahem, numbers get inflated. Others get significantly reduced.
I feel so square. I’m 53. I say I’m 53. I work out hard, I watch what I eat (to extremes). I could easily lie. Say I’m 47, 48, maybe go even a little lower. Everyone does it, right?
It’s a turnoff to me. It’s a trust issue. If the first thing you say about yourself is untrue—something so basic—how am I supposed to believe other things? Yep, I shut down over first coffee whenever a guy readjusts his age. If age is just a number, why not be real? I’ve been dismissed because of that real number. I know that. But that’s the other guy’s issue not mine. I can keep my integrity intact.
I’ll close out this post with a humorous section from John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Penguin Random House, 2017). (Highly recommended!) This passage is taken from a first date in a pub in Dublin, 1994, back in the days of personal ads instead of online dating/hooking up. Seems “Everyone does it” has quite a history.
He frowned a little and took a long drink from his beer. “You’re
in your fifties?” he asked. “I thought you were younger than
I stared at him, wondering whether he was a little hard of
hearing. “No,” I said. “I’m forty-nine. I just said.”
“Yes, but you don’t meant that you’re really forty-nine, do you?”
“What else would I mean?”
“Jesus, you’ve been off the dating scene quite a while, haven’t
you? The thing is, most men looking for other men claim to be
younger than they really are. Especially older men. If you meet
a man from a personal ad and he says he’s in his late thirties,
that means he’s pushing fifty and thinks he can get away with
thirty-nine. Delusional, most of them, but you know. Whatever.
When you said you’re forty-nine, I assumed that meant you were
mid to late fifties in real life.”
… “Do you meet a lot of people from personal ads?” I asked…
“From time to time,” he said. “I met a lad a couple of weeks ago, he
said he was nineteen but when he showed up he was almost my own
age. He was wearing a Blondie T-shirt, for Christ’s sake.”
“I used to have one of those,” I said. “But why would you want to meet
someone who you thought was nineteen anyway?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” he said, laughing. “I’m not too old for a nineteen-
“Well, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. But what would you have in
common with a boy that age?”
“We don’t need to have anything in common. It wasn’t his conver-
sational skills that I was after.”
… “So how old are you?” I asked finally.
“So does that mean you’re really thirty-four?”
“It does. But I’m twenty-eight when I meet people.”
“You’re meeting me right now.”
“Yes, but that’s different. You’re older. So I can be my own age.”
“Right. And have you had many relationships?”
“Relationships? No,” he said, with a shrug.
Sigh. Thanks, John Boyne, for writing something so relatable. It’s always funnier when it’s fiction!